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All Night Empires Posts

#1 thanks

At the table of witches all the instruments are pointed. The food still grows, the chairs settle still.

At the table of the commonwealth all the songs and conversations are forced, self-referential. The printed word will wait while dogs crowd below, one hundred legs for a dozen heads.

In the benches of the smiths commissions cool, need slouches towards anger.
In the arc of winter birds bolts of missing fabric are described in every space, from every angle.
Of all the many things left at home, thanks are the sorest missed.

9 volts, pt 3

nooner

I begin stalking Ulysses. To facilitate my obsessions, I get an apartment downtown. I buy old clothes, quiet shoes. I approximate her diet and routines. The blackbean and chard omelette at Roodaughter’s, Sunday nights at the perpetual Kurosawa festival at the Neptune. In the No 45 bus I disguise myself with terrific stenches- smells that would knock her eyes inward,  clog ears and throat. There is a thrill that I might be compromised by my intense need to be close to her; but for the will of imposed distances there is a shimmering and altogether inappropriate coziness in the staid dread of what is coming, a small but beloved stuffed toy burning on a wide featureless plain.

I find my head is emptying, softening, like a unstoppered wound. Or hard cheese at attic temperatures. I’m pleased to find that my obsessions are purgative and there’s perhaps an ironic health here. Consolations as they discover. Even my crap is unrecognizable. I can freely inspect my stool without revulsion and panic. I’m smoking less, and have given up coffee in favor of green tea.

Noe encourages me daily. He comes by my loft. He speaks at length on the aesthetics of my spartan living arrangements, like an interior decorator for the demented. He swoons comically over the sublimity of the typewriter under the bare 100 watt bulb, the 25lb bag of dry blackbeans in the cupboard, the cockroaches dried and clutched as if irradiated by cliché. He peers again at the typewriter. Wow, he says. Three words more than yesterday.

This is the museum copy I keep for him. In truth I am writing volumes. The words flow like bukake spray. I cannot contain them. But for him I keep a separate ream of paper with only one page used, nothing crumpled or tossed, a single meticulous passage growing at an indiscernible rate, like a trifling but trickling charge from a radio wired to a starchy potato.

East vs West

chairs

Sometime in the night he became aware of the sound of an infant left out of doors, a galling coo and caw of a child nearby. Not distressed exactly, the noise dewy and without pronounced dentals or even soft consonants, without the murmur of any attending adults, a child not crying but perhaps in the preliminaries of being nudged by a predator, outside in any case, vulnerable, in the ward of moon and night-blooming vine, and maybe this is where his dream began:

There were soft footfalls of bare feet in a dark kitchen in the pursuit of a rodent, the floor without texture or sound or sensation until the sticky smacking warmth of blood or excreted milk spilled underfoot, a sweaty belly-on-belly noisiness, and in this the pest and pursuer tracked and tangled and eventually became a solid undifferentiated mass,  struggling and damp and not without sexual hues, and upon the pest smooth bare patches of skins were discovered among its wet fur and upon the pursuer a predatory ambition perhaps more lenient.

He awoke to the odor of substandard living and he just lay there smelling in the caul of a thought but mostly in the margins of uncertainty, hesitance, phlegm. His eye falling upon nothing it had not already immortalized in dread, an erection but only to choke back a flood of pink urine, a toe of one foot cool. He wrote this down:

When she died there was no need to view the body, she’d been out of the apartment for five days and word came back from Jack Julius a strip-pit trombonist that she’d been dead for four, burned on a mattress in a melon patch on Bogalusa, the Volunteers saying no kerosene but maybe [joking] splo whiskey and too much Max Factor, a slender cheroot–this being the patois for a white man’s ambition.

He rarely flushed the upstairs toilet. The smell cast an odor of authenticity, an authoritative throb in the throat of the day’s heat. Someone beat on the door, the door to the furnished rooms below, now vacant. Hey motherfucker! He shifted his weight on the toilet. The joists creaked, the wax ring of the toilet wept a little.

Mamma Chakoa smelled and just lay there. Smelling. Then a magenta flame leapt to her window and she jumped out of bed and in her panic her Civil Defense uniform and her Daughters of the Sphinx fez. By then the smoke was greasily boiling so she cut a wide triangulating path to the fire like a schooner on a moonless bay: back door the post shop Treat’s Bog and came with dawn light out of the wind breathing through the felt of her fez. Then she saw the source and ran back to close the widows of her house and the ministry. She forgot to shutter the Post Shop, they’re still trying to boil the smell out of those greens, ruined Alice’s soup bone.

The door rumbled. It’s your mother, motherfucker. [Laughing] All angles must earn the weight of their marble.

I told Croe all this didn’t seek him out or anything, never much liked him. Or her either, even French Emma said she was still fired when we heard she was dead. I was gigging at the Caledonia then near the Derwent Hotel where they stayed and he was in the street pale and sour like after five days he was finally coming down to ask about her. Maybe he’d already heard, I don’t know, still don’t know what they were to each other, old and young cooped up together like that. Anyway nothing seemed to get a rise out of him, not even the part about the soup bone. [Laughs]. The boy was dense. Asked me [laughing] asked me if I wanted pie. Seems her last domestic duty was to bake this boy a loganberry pie.
August laughs: Bet you had some of that pie.
Shit. I didn’t have none of that pie.

Or any store-bought stone:
All angels must earn the weight of their marble
in insipid flight stoop to the gravity of our least remarkable,
consigned to the demented and pitched to its own likeness
and outmaneuvered by its own fall
All angles must hang way back in this bread line
lobbing careful memories at the fornicators, evidence each of
the tedious chore of sin
lost in forgotten influence
like snatches of old tunes

He stood and looked at these words. Please, he said. Talk amongst yourselves.

On carrying on hence

_DSC1015

What could I take if I went in the woods
and knew I was going to get lost.
I imagine string would be useful then my mind wanders;
some companionship or at least an issue of New Republic.
Something salty for my companion so she doesn’t eat me by mistake.

Things found useful in popular tragedies are common enough.
The more uses the better- like a space blanket, useful to signal for help or confound the carrion scavengers.
A handgun to pistol whip squirrels or cauterize a gunshot wound.
Or a nightjar, for crepuscular song as well as low-light foraging,
or perhaps a rare smoky musk to attract woodland mates yet disgust the barking beetle
but this I already have to spare.

I have not researched these things well, but even so this is where we part ways, friends
for I have an appointment with sleep
and with the droning hum of the earth. Let me in.

One man band

recurrance

Moses lays his big Caribbean hands on the piano, the place shakes. The gas jets jump with the bass run and your spine seems to want to snake out of your very asshole. The sawdust floor would be muddy even if Opel didn’t serve a drop. But there is whiskey, yes. Women in these little snakeskin slippers, too- small and tight like a baby boa scarfing an ostrich egg. Fat Fava bean lips hiking up coyly violent smiles. Did I expect to survive?

The week Willa and I didn’t sleep, beginning that Sunday with the first rain of well it seems like that whole summer. I remember all of the pigeonshit dust finally washing off windshields on Canal, down the sides of shop windows, even off Willa’s burnt purple slightly moldy eyeshadow when we went out on the fire escape to stand in the rain and smell the reconstituted city. It seemed things might at last be a little cool and clean, at least for an evening. Presumptively beautiful. Willa had found “work”, had a crisp new twenty dollar bill. I remember that twenty very well. It didn’t last long. But I can still feel the temperature and grit of the paper. Bills were bigger then, more ornate.  The paper held a crease like calico. Had more gravity, seemed more immediate, less detached, less sociopathic than modern money.

I could stay up for a week then. From Sunday to Sunday. I was seventeen. I can’t imagine. At the time my mother was in Paris doing a record, some old Fats Waller and King Oliver fakes, I think in French, but I’ve never actually listened to it. She wouldn’t come back for a long time. She got married again even though Dean was still alive and married as well , flaking around the west coast, no place to receive a summons.  Dean was nuts, Ginny wrote me all the time, if for no other reason than to remind me of stuff like this. But I never read her letters either.

But Dean was somewhat fucked-up. He taught music at UNC when we lived there then he got into inventing all these strange instruments–I remember this rice paper thing, a cross between a banjo and an erhu with a rice paper resonator, it sounded pretty cool, but he started to insist that proficiency on these instruments be necessary for a passing grade and he was fired. Then we moved all over while he followed tours, Jelly Roll Morton, even Duke Ellington, and he would play their material in the white clubs even as they played across town. I think, I hope, he believed he was getting the word out about black music, but he pissed people off. No one so much as Ginny. He’d [laughs] he’d get the crap kicked out of him outside clubs then he’d stagger home and get the crap kicked out of him at home. Today, well, I don’t know. Once he sat at breakfast in his little Noel Coward robe, smoking Chesterfields with fingers swollen up like kielbasa and suddenly fold over the paper and say:  Bugle to buttocks, toe castanets, and a voice to crack cement: this one-man band is some grand ham. Really, I should just roll up my dick and go home.

You are home, Pop.
He looked around the apartment, but not at Ginny. He reopened and rattled the paper vigorously. Yeah no offense pally, but this isn’t home.
Then where’s home?  We going back to Chapel Hill?
He looked at me.
Ginny said We’re building a suit of windowless rooms, just for your father.
Shit. The belly of any whale will do.

I could live in anything then, among anyone. Not anything planned, not anything avoided. Was it from excitement about being out of that house, or about the new situations? I can no longer remember. Willa, Wilma, Vilma, Villa, Villian, her many aliases like the conjugation of dead verbs. She was certainly exciting, at least to a seventeen year old. Living away from home was exciting, although there was a mysterious familial connection to her that I never asked questions about that made it all peripherally a little nauseating. I never completely respected her. But she had scars that I could find out absolutely nothing about, which titled things back towards sympathy, intrigue. She wore nothing but silk shifts, like a sheath, like a low-friction covering in which to move through the night and pluck children from first-story windows. Low-heels to de-emphasize her height, spare her from her own clumsiness, jewelry and rings to distract from her absolutely fucked-up hands, but I always thought this achieved the opposite. She moved in oblique starts, tilting backwards, not so much in recoil, but like someone was pushing a 7′ Gaillard wardrobe across the room.

Call before digging

heartoftard
There’s a wonderful dog waiting in the kitchen,
dead, wrapped in barrier cloth like afterbirth,
broken back, severed spinal cord, rear leg peeled like a banana.
You must rest easy or my grief too will be inadequate,
like the hole I will dig, shallower than the times I ignored you,
more trifling than all my petty demands on your passing,
now rendered inalterable beneath this compulsory wait
for a break in the rain, or for better light.

Harvest gold

We painted the doors shut and fucked with the light
that’s linked to so many switches and never
lights the room.

Then we unplugged the house and now the waste
from our late night meals and clothes from our bedtime all work equally well for effigy or efferent,
shroud or sanctuary

Then the clones of small crops grew from the cellar in the dark, stunted and wrinkled yet energetic,
but the dark itself is now crusty and unassertive,
humic, stale.

As such there is no light to warm the indigence in our embrace
but at least the heat expelled from us no longer tastes like shag,
or Christmas electrical fires.

We painted the door shut and each of us fucked with the other,
you who is linked to so much indecision, and me who never lights up a room

Red state rules

There is no chickenshit in turd golf
You are not to remove Stones, Bones,
or furious Broken Club for the sake of playing your turd,
-except upon the fair Green, & that only within a Club’s length of your turd-

Neither Trench, Ditch, or Dyke made for the preservation of the Links,
the Scholar’s Holes or the Soldier’s Lines, shall be accounted a Hazard.
The turd is to be taken out, Tee’d and play’d with any Iron Club.

If your turd come among Water- or any Watery filth-
you are obliged to take out your turd & bring it behind the hazard and Tee it.
You must play it with any Club and allow your Adversary a Stroke, for so getting out your turd.

To any person, Horse, Dog, or anything Else: The turd must be play’d where it lies.
There is no backswing in turd golf
But everyone gets a fair shake as the dog leg left sometime ago

4-headed Anna

flannery

I’m found almost daily in suckled depths of nothing, noting nothing interesting but
a 2 headed coin, some headless stamps, migraines, a dry half-spilled cigarette. Though I now quit
3 times a week I keep looking for a way back in, so where am I exactly?

Nanoassed corrections like a clotted strike from an antique plate,
re-conditioned and intending to betray, or at least obscure, a posted rate.
Tiny accounts of wildly useless travels, entire visits unkept by memory or missive, only an erratum of Bedlam’s short orders, briefly skimmed
and impaled on a memo spike. Fractured and fairly
fairy-tale in disaggregate space, in soothing disregard.

Ignotum per ignotius. Once more the Amazing Head-Swallowing Ass has the night off, but he is always on call. Like us, the genuine predates the fake by scant hours, and no matter how you turn the goddamned thing, the head is always upside down.

Minutes of the flightless

flightless

I only know of one other documented human death by flightless bird. It was caused by a cassowary in 1926. 16-year-old Phillip McClean and his brother, aged 13, came across a cassowary on their property and decided to beat it senseless by striking it with clubs. The bird kicked the younger boy, who cried and ran home.  His older brother swung at the bird, missed, and fell to the ground. While he was down the cassowary kicked him in the neck, opening a 1.25 cm wound which punctured the carotid. The boy died of his injuries shortly afterwards.

It was always much much easier to beat the Dodo… Goddamnit, we always discuss the inevitable!

When the speed ratio of wing to plummet is humbled only by that of stupidity to circumstance, what other choice do you have?